Have you ever found yourself invited to an event, maybe a party or business workshop, and have dreaded it ever since receiving the invitation. Maybe you have even avoided going completely, even though the subject is of interest or you know it would be beneficial for you to attend. Well it’s time to face up to your social fears.
Did you know that most people say that they have social anxieties? I know that I often am wary of certain social situations, and I am a LOT better than I used to be. It’s right up there with public speaking as one of the biggest fears. Social fears are one of the most common issues that a lot of people face or claim to face. It may be worse for some than for others, but social fear is a pretty universal issue. For most of us it started in our teenage years. We either learned to cope with it, or it grew into something worse.
There are some ways in which you can learn to face social fears without having to drop off the face of the earth. Most of these tips are easy to accomplish. If you have issues that exceed these tips, consider getting some professional help. You may have social anxiety and need mediation or stronger help to get yourself on the right path.
* Start Small – If you are ready to make a huge change in your life and face your social fears, don’t choose to start with speaking in front of 1500 people. Instead, start small with a small group like a “meet-up” group, or a reading group. Get a little bit out of your comfort zone, and then build up to more. Check out your local newspaper for opportunities, or perhaps see if there are any local groups on social media. I remember a few years ago some locals set up a Tweetup – a social meetup for local Twitter users – which were held once a month in a hotel bar. Unfortunately it has now stopped, but I made a good many friends through meeting them in person this way. I even met my other half, Nicky!
* Plan Ahead – Most people are nervous in social situations but if you plan ahead, you’ll be more relaxed. Practice introducing yourself, and if you have a good friend ask them to practice your handshake too. Being more comfortable around people starts one step at a time, and practice will help it feel more familiar. And remember, it is more than likely that at least half he room is either feeling that way too or has done in previous meetings.
* Love Yourself — Many social fears come from wrong-headed beliefs that something is wrong with you. You don’t think enough of yourself, and you think you’re weird or somehow “wrong.” But, nothing could be further from the truth. Most of us have something different about us; if we were all the same it would be quite boring. Embrace your differences and accept yourself for who you are. I am often heard to be saying that everyone is beautiful in there own way, it’s just a case of seeing it.
* Avoid Judgment – Some measure of social fears come from our own poor judgments of not just ourselves but others. We think that if we are so judgmental then other people are too. So, to avoid that judgment we just avoid the situation entirely. If you learn to stop being so judgmental you’ll be able to be less afraid. Learn to accept other people’s differences and personalities as just being human. Being human is perfectly acceptable.
* Your Fears Aren’t Reality – Just because you’re afraid of something doesn’t mean it’s real. You may have all sorts of ideas in your head about how your voice sounds, how you look, and your perceived awkwardness. But, the truth is, most people are so tied up in their own fears that they don’t even notice that you’re nervous. Even if they do notice, I am sure most people will realise and try set you at ease. Fearing something doesn’t mean it will actually happen.
* Take a Deep Breath – When you feel the anxiety coming on, stop, and take a deep breath. Breathe in slowly through your nose, filling up your lungs completely, and then breathe out slowly through your mouth. One or two slow breaths can help you overcome your initial fears fast.
* Take the Leap Anyway – Most of the time, fear is worse than the actual situation. Even if you’re doing something scary like getting an injection, or an operation or bungee jumping – the worry leading up to the event is much worse than the actuality of what you are doing. If you take the leap and jump in with both feet, you’ll find that your fear level drops substantially.
Most social fear is a normal reaction that people have. You’re not abnormal to have social fears. This is especially true if you’re unwilling to allow your fears to block you from having a happy and productive life.
If you have an event coming up that you are fearful of, let me know in the comments. But take note of the points above and face that fear anyway.